Panic on Gaza Streets

A little girl cries as medics attend to her injuries at al-Shifa hospital, Gaza City (18 July). UNICEF/Eyad El Baba
A little girl cries as medics attend to her injuries at al-Shifa hospital, Gaza City (18 July). UNICEF/Eyad El Baba

War Rages on Over Calls for Peace

TEL AVIV – INTERNATIONAL – Israel has upped the offensive. Today Israeli Military Forces have blown up the major power station that supplied electricity to homes and businesses in the Gaza Strip.

The move came after a night of escalated attacks.

The Israeli Department of Foreign Affairs states, “Overnight, the IDF targeted over 70 terror sites throughout the Gaza Strip, including two sites used as Hamas command and control centers, four weapon storage sites concealed within mosques, a concealed rocket launcher near a mosque and an offensive tunnel.

“In the early hours of the morning, infrastructure of the treasury wing of Hamas used to fund and manage Hamas’ terror activities was targeted in Gaza City.

“The IDF also targeted the Al-Aqsa broadcasting station used to incite Palestinians against Israel, to transmit orders and messages to Hamas terrorists, and to instruct Gaza residents to ignore IDF warnings regarding upcoming military activity in specific areas”.

There was panic on the streets of Gaza as the wounded were rushed to the hospital.

At least three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli strike on southern Gaza.

On Monday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a protracted war in Gaza, dashing any hopes of a swift end to the three-week conflict as Palestinian fighters launched an audacious cross-border raid.

More than 1,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians have died in the conflict. Israel has lost 48 soldiers and three civilians.

As night fell on Monday, army flares filled the skies. The Israeli military warned thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes in areas around Gaza City – usually the prelude to major strikes.

Calls for Peace Unheeded

Urging Israelis and Palestinians to stop the fighting now, “in the name of humanity”, United Nations Secretary-General has again joined the Security Council in calling on the parties to agree on an “immediate and unconditional” ceasefire, allowing for the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip.

‘Gaza in critical condition’ – UN General Secretary

A little girl cries as medics attend to her injuries at al-Shifa hospital, Gaza City (18 July). UNICEF/Eyad El Baba
A little girl cries as medics attend to her injuries at al-Shifa hospital, Gaza City (18 July). UNICEF/Eyad El Baba

“Gaza is in a critical condition. Israeli missiles have pummelled Gaza. Hamas rockets have randomly struck Israel,” said Mr. Ban, briefing the press at United Nations Headquarters on his return from a six-day mission to the region, where he pressed both sides to heed the rising humanitarian toll of the crisis, stop the fighting and return to a comprehensive dialogue that would address and prevent the seemingly endless cycle of violence.

While stressing that no country would accept the threat of rockets from above and tunnels from below, The Secretary-General said that at the same time, “All occupying powers have an international legal obligation to protect civilians.”

“I was deeply disappointed that dangerous hostilities resumed on Sunday – but since Sunday evening a relative and very fragile calm on the ground has been established, said the UN chief, adding that while the temporary weekend pause in fighting brought a “brief respite” to war-weary civilians, it had also revealed “how much the massive Israeli assault has devastated the lives of the people of Gaza.”

Telling reporters that people on the ground have described the breadth of the destruction – which has reduced entire neighbourhoods to rubble and flattened apartment buildings throughout the tiny enclave – as a “man-made hurricane, Mr. Ban said: “The people of Gaza have nowhere to run. Every home, every school, every refuge has become a target.”

Ten Percent of the Population Refugees

The casualties and massive damage also raise serious questions of proportionality, continued the Secretary-General, adding that as of now, more than 173,000 Gazans – nearly 10 per cent of the population – are seeking protection at facilities managed by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

“I repeat my call on Israel and all the parties to do vastly more to ensure the safety of these UN sites and the security of the people who have sought sanctuary there,” he said.

Mr. Ban’s comments to the press came hours after an early morning emergency session of the UN Security Council, which also called for an immediate ceasefire.

FILES: DAILY MOTION / REUTERS / Israeli Department of Foreign Affairs

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